Carve Well On Way to Becoming a Millionaire

Trainer Brad Cox said late last month that he believed Carve could reach $1 million in career earnings this year and so far, so good. Carve boosted his bankroll to $772,415 with a powerful 3 ½-length victory over Code West in the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Friday afternoon at Oaklawn.

A 5-year-old gelded son of First Samurai, Carve ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:42.44 to earn a career-high preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 106.

Cox said Carve, a multiple stakes winner, emerged from the victory in good order and will be pointed for the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14.

“Yesterday’s performance, that was his best effort, for sure,” Cox said. “I just liked the way he did it. It looked like, to me, he even had a little bit left.”

Under Jesus Castanon, Carve chased Zee Bros through a :47.01 half-mile and 6 furlongs in 1:11.10. He took command on the outside in the upper stretch, passed the mile in an eye-catching 1:36.04 and completed the fastest Fifth Season since Spanish Empire (1:42.40) in 2004.

“I think Castanon kind of kept that other horse in range,” Cox said. “The way he chased him, I thought he might be a little flat down the lane. That really didn’t happen. Just when he took over, he took over.”

Cox said Carve will be nominated to the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 14, but the 1 1/16-mile race probably comes back a little quick since the Fifth Season was originally scheduled to be run Jan. 10. Oaklawn rescheduled the Fifth Season after losing its first three racing days to winter weather.

Cox said last month that Carve would likely contest three of Oaklawn’s four two-turn stakes races for older horses this year, with the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11 the major target. He ran third in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap.

Cox said he “likes the timing” between the Fifth Season and Razorback, which is also 1 1/16 miles.

“He seems like a horse that appreciates a little time in between spots,” Cox said.  

Carve is owned by Mike Langford of Jonesboro, Ark. On behalf of Langford, trainer Steve Asmussen claimed Carve for $30,000 out of his career debut victory in January 2013 at Oaklawn. Carve, who moved to Cox’s barn approximately a year ago, closed 2013 with a sixth-place finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Oct. 31 at Santa Anita.

Our Quista Update

Al Cates decided to pass Saturday’s $100,000 Pippin Stakes with Our Quista - the trainer’s crack 4-year-old Louisiana-bred filly – because of recent training setbacks related to winter weather.

But Cates said he plans to start the daughter of Half Ours “several times” at the Oaklawn meeting.

One race Cates mentioned was the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14, the final major local prep for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 10.

“We’re going to test her here,” Cates said.

Our Quista won 3 of 6 starts last year, including the $150,000 Elge Rasberry Stakes and, in her last start, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes Dec. 13 at Fair Grounds.

Our Quista is expected to be named champion Louisiana-bred 3-year-old filly.

“I can’t imagine her not being champion, but they haven’t done it yet,” Cates said. “In my mind, she is – if they ask me. She’s a nice filly.”
 
Beard of Knowledge

“Big Steve” Krajcir, the agent for Jon Court and Joe Johnson, said he won’t shave his salt-and-pepper beard until his jockeys combine to meet their quota during Oaklawn’s 54-day live season that ends April 11.

“I told them they’ve got to win five in one day,” Krajcir said. “Joe said, ‘Well, you’ll look like Rip Van Winkle.’ I said, ‘No, you’re just going to have to ride a little harder, because I know Jon’s going be able to have a two or three bagger. You’re going to have to chip in on that and ride really hard.’ ’’

Krajcir said he began growing his beard in “No Shave November,” an annual promotion for cancer awareness.

After Court guided Frivolous to an upset victory in the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (G2) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs, Krajcir said a buddy jokingly told him that he should break out his razor.

A $200,000 race, the friend surmised, equaled five allowance races worth $40,000.
“I told him that I’m not doing it,” Krajcir said.

Krajcir reunited with Johnson, trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage’s longtime stable rider, at this year’s Oaklawn meet.

Finish Lines

High Dollar Woman, who is scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 on Saturday morning for trainer Tony Dutrow. … Pangburn, runner-up in September’s $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 on Saturday morning for trainer Kenny McPeek. … Will Did It, a 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt winless in three career starts for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, worked a half-mile in :54 on Saturday morning. Owner Willis Horton purchased Will Did It for $700,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. … Training hours were normal Saturday (7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). The surface was rated fast.
 

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